What is Leadership Studies?

The study of leadership focuses on the human and organizational dynamics that enable coordinated, goal-oriented initiatives to be carried out successfully in groups, organizations and communities. Topics of study include comparative leadership theory, interpreting organizational culture, leading strategic change, understanding the psychosocial factors that influence leadership effectiveness, and mastering strategies for assessing and developing leadership capacity in individuals, groups, organizations and communities.  Emphasis is placed on enhancing individuals’ leadership literacy, i.e. their ability to understand and interpret ordinary circumstances with insight into the human qualities and situational contingencies required to produce extraordinary outcomes. 

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What makes the curriculum of Xavier’s Leadership Studies Doctoral program unique?

If you are comparing Xavier's Leadership Studies doctoral program to others, you will find we offer a distinctive interdisciplinary social sciences perspective that affords a broader, more diverse and in-depth approach to the study of leadership. In addition, the program permits students to choose a targeted area of disciplinary specialization that aligns with their professional aspirations.  The combination of this interdisciplinary core and targeted cognate specialization prepares graduates to respond to, and advance their careers within the complex leadership dynamics they encounter in multiple organizational and community contexts.  Finally, consistent with the latest models of leadership development, Xavier’s Leadership Studies program combines a dual focus on developing leadership expertise and enhancing leader identity.

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What is the advantage of an interdisciplinary leadership program?

Leadership is a universal phenomenon, but for many decades it was studied separately by students and scholars in different disciplines:  business, education, health care, human resource development, community planning, public administration, etc.  Now it is recognized that the insights gained by scholars and practitioners in these separate arenas are even more valuable when integrated across disciplinary lines. Moreover, leaders themselves have begun to recognize that they benefit from dialogue with their counterparts in different types of organizations and roles.  Xavier’s interdisciplinary doctoral program in Leadership Studies combines both these benefits by creating a diverse learning environment the includes experts from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives who provide a core leadership curriculum that integrates knowledge from psychology, sociology, business, education and anthropology, applied to a variety of specialized organizational contexts. With this model, Xavier offers a state-of-the-art approach to studying leadership in the 21st century.

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How does the Leadership Studies Doctoral Program reflect Xavier’s distinctive Jesuit Mission and Identity?   

Xavier’s doctoral program in Leadership Studies is designed to instill a sense of individual and collective discernment, reflective purpose and visionary efficacy regarding the leadership opportunities and challenges that exist within both local and global organizations, institutions and communities.  Students gain content knowledge, self-insight and the professional skills required to continually enhance leadership capacity in themselves and others. Graduates are equipped with leadership expertise that is theoretically, ethically and empirically grounded. Character-based approaches to leader identity are highlighted that emphasize the contributions of higher-order qualities of being by all members of an organization, regardless of role, status of position. Leader identities are further enhanced through specialized cognate courses in selected areas of application, providing expertise relating to targeted domains of practice.

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How will the Leadership Studies doctoral program help me grow as a leader?

The program enhances leaders’ capacity to more effectively read the leadership landscape around them, identifying both the types of leadership being exercised by others, as well as the forms of leadership that will prove to be transformative within the organizations and communities they serve.  Students will grow in their ability to: (a) reflect upon this complexity using the tools of theory and research to discern the meaning of leadership in a variety of social institutions; and to (b) understand the critical individual, interpersonal and contextual factors affecting leader-follower relationships and organizational effectiveness. Graduates of the program will be prepared to produce extraordinary outcomes from the purposeful activities in which members of the organizations they serve are collectively engaged.

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How is the curriculum structured?

The doctoral program consists of 15 courses, plus a dissertation. The coursework is structured into two common cores, plus a differentiated cognate domain of application selected by the student:

  • Leadership Core (15 credits)
  • Research Core (15 credits)
  • Cognate Domain (15 credits) (selected)

Dissertation (15 credits)

The Leadership and Research Cores provide a common foundation for all doctoral students, while the Cognate Domain and Dissertation afford individuals an opportunity to tailor their program to targeted areas of application in such areas as k-12 education, higher education administration, health care, human and organizational development, and non-profit and community leadership. Prospective applicants should contact the program director for current information about cognate development.

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What is the content of the Leadership Core?

The Leadership Core imparts a comprehensive, progressive foundation of theory and research pertaining to both traditional and contemporary approaches to leadership. Psychological, social, cultural and developmental processes, as well as ethical principles that inform core areas of leadership practice are explored. These include: Effective strategies for leading organizational change, shaping organizational cultures, and developing leadership capacity among individuals, groups, organizations and communities.  The Leadership Core helps students achieve the following outcomes:

Leadership Core Outcomes:

1.1. Master comparative leadership theory.  Students will acquire a working knowledge of comparative leadership theories rooted in an understanding of the multifaceted nature of leadership, the limitations of adopting a single operational perspective, and the importance of developing purposeful fluidity as practitioners and researchers. 

1.2. Understand the individual, interpersonal and contextual factors affecting leadership practice.  Students will gain perspective on the psychological, social, contextual and cultural factors that determine or influence effective practice and development of leadership capacity among individuals, groups, organizations and communities.

1.3. Explore ethical, spiritual and character-based dimensions of leadership.  Students will explore the moral, spiritual and character-based dimensions of leadership with respect to their historical, ethical and pragmatic significance for leader identity, socially-responsible purpose and global influence in organizations and communities. 

1.4. Develop functional expertise in core areas of leadership practice.  Students will master essential leadership knowledge, skills and techniques required to shape organizational culture, implement change and develop leadership capacity among individuals, groups, organizations and communities. 

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What is the content of the Research Core?

The Research Core consists of five courses that convey essential elements of research design, data analysis and interpretation. These courses help students interpret published literature in the field and prepare them to work with a faculty advisor to complete their dissertation. Since all students admitted to the program are working professionals, the first course in the research core focuses on the fundamentals of social research design. This course levels the playing field for all students by ensuring familiarity with essential vocabulary, concepts and principles of research. That course is complemented by a hands-on course that explores a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Two statistics courses introduce students to the conceptual knowledge and software tools available for calculating and reporting descriptive data and analytical results. A final course outlines the process of proposing and carrying out doctoral research, including strategies for selecting a faculty advisor, negotiating a topic and developing a timeline for completing the dissertation.  The courses in the Research Core help students achieve the following outcomes:

Research Core Outcomes:

2.1 Master social science research methodologies. Students will acquire conceptual knowledge and functional expertise pertaining to the qualitative and quantitative methods of social research that inform the creation, interpretation, investigation and application of empirically valid theories and practices in the field of leadership studies.

2.2 Master qualitative and quantitative data analysis.  Students will develop skills of qualitative and quantitative date analysis sufficient to analyze, interpret and understand the implications of data collected using social scientific research methods.

2.3 Master Elements of Proposal Development & Execution.  Students will acquire the capacity to plan, organize, propose and execute social scientific research in laboratory and applied settings employing principles of effective design, data management and ethical conduct.

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What is the purpose of the Cognate Domain?

Courses in the cognate domain facilitate the integration of content knowledge as it applies to a targeted area of leadership practice. These courses enable students to deepening insight, understanding and awareness respecting the application of core leadership principles, theories and skills to specific populations and organizational contexts. Each cognate domain is anchored to the Leadership Core by two courses that provide a foundational and a capstone experience. Cognate courses are designed to facilitate the following outcomes:

Cognate Domain Outcomes:

3.1  Impart Specialized Content Knowledge Affecting Leadership Applications. Students will acquire specialized content knowledge respecting a selected domain of leadership practice, including an integrated understanding of institutional context, mission, structure, populations served, cultural norms and traditions of leadership practice. 

3.2 Explore Targeted Leadership Practices & Applications. Students will explore the relevance, significance and appropriate application of leadership theories, skills and practices to a targeted practice domain in the context of a selected interdisciplinary field of expertise.

3.3  Enhance Applied Leadership Insight and Awareness.  Students will deepen their insight and understanding relative to their own leadership identity and/or the nature of the challenges and opportunities that exist within particular organizational or community contexts.

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How are courses in the doctoral program sequenced?

The courses in the Leadership Studies doctoral program do not have to be taken in a prescribed order.  However, some courses do have pre-requisites, so your academic advisor will help you develop an overall recommended progression of courses based on when you choose to enter the program (Fall, Spring or Summer). It is not expected that you complete all courses in one core in a segregated manner before taking courses in another core area. Rather it is recommended that you intersperse courses from both the Leadership and Research cores throughout your program of study, adding courses from your selected cognate along the way, based on timing, interest and availability. You are expected to meet with your academic adviser to review progress and consider options prior to enrolling each semester. Your adviser will assist you in selecting courses consistent with your overall plan, based on how many courses you are prepared to take and how quickly you want to complete the program. 

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How long does it take to complete the program?

The Leadership Studies doctoral program consists of 15 courses (45 credit hours) plus a dissertation, for a total of 60 credit hours. Students who take courses year round (Fall, Spring & summer semesters), and carry a full load (2 courses per semester) can complete their doctoral coursework in just over 2 years (7.5 semesters).  Beyond their coursework, the amount of time students need to complete their dissertation varies, but for purposes of planning students should add approximately 18 months.

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Is there a prescribed number of courses a student must take each semester?

No. Xavier’s Leadership Studies doctoral program is not a cohort program, so there is no minimum number of classes a student must take each semester. Instead, the doctoral program is designed to maximize individual flexibility, allowing each student to decide how many courses to take each semester.  We recognize that as working professionals with multiple work, family and community commitments, the amount of time you can devote to your doctoral studies may vary over the course of your program.

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How many classes should I take each semester?

A full course load for doctoral students is two courses per semesters (6 courses per year, if you take courses year round). A student should not register for more than two courses each semester, as this constitutes a full load for doctoral students. You may choose to take only one course in a semester when you know your work obligations will be particularly demanding, or if you anticipate enrolling in a particularly challenging course. However, once you have reached the dissertation portion of the program, you will be required to maintain continuous enrollment in at least one credit of dissertation advising until you graduate. As always, decisions about how many courses to take each semester should be made in consultation with your academic advisor.

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Do I have to take classes every semester? What if I want to take a semester off?

The program is designed to allow flexibility.  Admitted students may decide each semester whether to enroll in courses based on an assessment of their individual priorities and external obligations.  Some students choose to take a one-semester hiatus during the summer, or if they take on a special project at work. There are no restrictions placed on you regarding these decisions, with the caveat that: 1) each student is given a maximum of nine years to complete the program (including the dissertation) after matriculation, and 2) once you reach the dissertation phase of study, you must enroll in at least 1 credit of Dissertation Advisement each semester until graduation. You should keep your adviser informed at all times and communicate your intentions to the program director. 

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What if I need more time to complete the program?

Ordinarily, nine years is more than sufficient time to complete the program, even if a student chooses to take one or more semesters off.  In fact, even if you only enrolled in one course per semester, and took one semester off per year, you would still have nearly two years to complete your dissertation before the nine-year clock ran out. Nevertheless, a petition may be filed for a 10th year, if required to complete the program due to extenuating circumstances.

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When are doctoral courses scheduled?

Leadership Studies doctoral courses are taught week nights and weekends to accommodate the schedules of full-time working professionals.  During the Fall & Spring semesters, night courses typically meet once a week for 2.5 hours, between 4:30 and 9:30 p.m. Summer classes meet more frequently but for fewer weeks. Weekend classes are typically scheduled for Saturday mornings, 1-2 times a month for longer blocks of time (e.g. 8:30-noon every third weekend).  A limited number of courses are taught in a blended format that does not require students to come to campus every week; blended courses utilize a variety of strategies to engage students in a targeted, remote learning experiences on those weeks when class is not held on campus.

Where are Leadership Studies classes taught?  Leadership Studies courses are taught on the Xavier University campus located between I-71 and I-75 in Cincinnati, Oho.  Currently, most classes meet in either the Conaton Learning Commons or Hailstones Hall located near the circle drive off Dana Avenue.  Parking is conveniently located nearby.  See Campus Map:  http://www.xavier.edu/allhonorsday/documents/campusmap.pdf.  Course delivery is facilitated through the Canvas Course Management system, an Internet-based utility that can be used to download curriculum materials, submit completed assignments, and coordinate partnered learning experiences.

Is the doctoral program offered online?   The Leadership Studies doctoral program is a campus-based program, however some classes include a remote learning component. Remote learning experiences afford flexibility by allowing students to complete assignments off-campus, working either independently or together with learning partners to integrate and apply curricular content.  Although remote learning experiences extend learning outside the classroom, they do not necessarily involve online learning, although in some cases a course management system may utilized be to facilitate communication or the submission of assignments.

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What is an EdD degree and how is it different from a PhD?

The Ed.D. degree originated in the early 1900’s at a time when other professional degrees such as the J.D. and M.D. also emerged as alternatives to the traditional Ph.D.  However, any differences originally intended to distinguish these degrees has largely eroded over the years, both in terms of curricular substance and career implications.  A recent study of higher education institutions in the U.S. found no difference between Ed.D and Ph.D. programs with respect to curricular or dissertation requirements (Shulman, Golde, Conklin & Garabedian, 2006).  Similarly, a comparison of the dissertations produced during the same time period found that graduates of Ph.D. programs were no more likely to have conducted basic vs. applied research than were graduates receiving an Ed.D.  What more accurately differentiates the graduates of both types of degree programs is a student’s individual professional aspirations, and their success producing a dissertation calibrated to prepare them for their intended career trajectory. Xavier’s emphasis on individual dissertation advisement in the Leadership Studies doctoral program is designed to ensure that each student receives the personalized attention required to achieve this calibration during the dissertation portion of their degree program.

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Is an Ed.D degree just for educators? 

No. Leadership Studies is a multidisciplinary degree that prepares individuals to exercise leadership capacity in a wide range of professional roles and organizational contexts. Leadership is a quality that confers benefit to the organizations, communities and societies served by individuals who exercise this capacity, from whatever position or role they occupy. Leaders are needed in all sectors of society, and they lead from wherever they find themselves in their organizational hierarchy. The study of leadership thus involves becoming familiar with theories and practices derived from multiple disciplines, and imparts an expertise that has relevance for professionals in many fields, regardless of whether they occupy or aspire to administrative roles. The cognate portion of the doctoral degree in leadership studies encourages professionals working in business, non-profit, human resources, health care, and government as well as K-12 or higher education to combine what they learn about leadership with their disciplinary expertise. Graduates of the program often continue in their current profession, but may find they have new opportunities or an advantage in the job market when it comes to pursuing their aspirational goals. Some graduates use the degree to gain entry to new professional arenas.

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What types of career objectives do graduates of the Leadership Studies doctoral program pursue?

Most applicants to the program are working professionals who what to continue in their current line of work, but increase their opportunities for advancement or leadership roles. Others want to fuel a transition in their careers, or prepare to launch entrepreneurial initiatives. Some may wish to break into new arenas, while continuing to leverage connections in their current professional lives. The program is designed to help students combine their current expertise with new knowledge and personal growth to target stated aspirational goals. Prospective students from business, education, human resources, health care, non-profit and military and government or public administration are encouraged to contact the program director to discuss specific ways their career trajectory may benefit from a doctoral degree in Leadership Studies.

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How do I apply to the Leadership Studies doctoral program?

Applications must be submitted online to the Office of Graduate Studies at:  https://admit.xavier.edu/apply. After registering for an account, select “Leadership Studies Doctorate Program (Ed.D.).” to make sure your application gets routed to the program director. You do not have to submit all your applications materials at one time.  In fact, it is a good idea to start your application early, even before you have assembled all required materials.  Once you enter your basic information, the system will assist you in generating requests for transcripts and letters of reference.  Each time you logon to upload additional documentation, you must remember to click “submit” in order for the uploaded information to be made available for review.  It is also a good idea to email the program director at lattag@xavier.edu to alert her that you have started an application.  Dr. Latta can assist you throughout the process by verifying the status of your application and advising of any outstanding documentation required.   

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What are the application requirements for the Leadership Studies doctoral program and the admissions process?

Applicants to the Leadership Studies doctoral program must possess a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, and have an overall minimum GPA of 3.0. They must submit all required application materials (transcripts reflecting all previous undergraduate and graduate work attempted, a current resume, a personal statement outlining how the program will enhance personal and professional goals, three letters of reference, and scores from a graduate entrance exam, e.g.GRE, MAT, GMAT or LSAT). Applicants whose prior study was outside the United States must provide documentation of having completed equivalent degrees. International applicants must meet requirements established by the Center for International Education: http://www.xavier.edu/international-admission/graduate.cfm. Applicants who meet these requirements will be invited to participate in an admissions interview with the program director and affiliated faculty, to determine their preparation and fit with program objectives. Admissions interviews are currently held at least twice a year in April and October, for applicants wishing to matriculation in the Fall and Spring semesters, respectively. Admissions decisions are communicated within 4-6 weeks.

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What does it cost to apply to the program?

Currently there is no admission fee required for submitting your application to the Leadership Studies doctoral program at Xavier University.  

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What documents do I need to submit an application to the Leadership Studies doctoral program?

To apply to the Leadership Studies Doctoral program at Xavier University, you will need to submit the following required documentation:

Official transcripts of all graduate and undergraduate higher education coursework attempted, including any coursework not leading to a degree. All transcripts must be sent directly from the granting institution to the Office of Graduate Admission at Xavier.  (International transcripts must be accompanied by an English translation prepared by an authorized agency)
A current resume, detailing both your educational and work history, as well as your professional, service and volunteer activities.
3 letters of recommendation (typically from former employers, faculty, or work colleagues)
Scores from a graduate entrance exam (e.g. GRE, GMAT, Miller Analogies Test (MAT), LSAT).  Older scores are acceptable, so you do not have to retake the exam as long as you have documentation of your original scores.
A personal statement, at least 1000 words in length, explaining your professional goals and how you see the Leadership Studies doctoral program helping you achieve those objectives.

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What if I’ve never taken a graduate entrance exam or have lost my scores?

If you have never taken a graduate entrance exam, or have lost your original scores, you will need to contact a local provider to register for either the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).  Most students prefer the Miller Analogies Test, but you may want to investigate the differences on your own before making a decision. The MAT is administered on the Xavier campus though the Psychological Services Center; more information about the test and how to register is available on their website:  http://www.xavier.edu/psychologicalservices/miller-analogies-test.cfm

Local test agencies offering the GRE can be located at:  https://mygre.ets.org/greweb/action/RegPortal. 

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What happens after I submit my application? 

Following submission of your application, you will be contacted by the program director to schedule an on-campus interview. Interviews are held at least once a semester, typically within two weeks of the posted submission deadline.  Additional interview sessions may be held at other times throughout the academic year, at the discretion of the program director. The interview session lasts one hour and includes a half-hour of questions followed by an opportunity to provide written responses to a series of prompts. Input on each applicant’s application file and writing sample is solicited from program faculty, administrators and affiliated colleagues, before an admissions decision is reached.  You will be notified by the program director of the admissions decision, and advised of next steps in the admissions process. The entire admissions process takes about 4-6 weeks following the posted deadline.

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What is the cost of tuition?

Tuition of the Leadership Studies doctoral program is determined on a per credit hour rate. This rate is set each academic year and posted on the university website. The current rate may be found at:  http://www.xavier.edu/about/Tuition-and-Fees.cfm?ver=grad1415&submit=Get+Info.  Although tuition rates may change over the period of time you are enrolled in the program, the current rate can be used to estimate the cost of the program on a per-course or per semester basis, as well as to gage the overall investment require to complete the degree. There are no special program fees associated with the program, although general university fees do apply.  Students may contact the Bursar’s office for assistance calculating an accurate estimate.  Additional information about billing and payment of tuition and fees can be found on the Bursar’s website: http://www.xavier.edu/bursar/.

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Who can advise me about financial aid?

The Office of Student Financial Assistance at Xavier has put together a very helpful flier outlining options available to assist graduate students in funding their advanced degrees.  The flier can be downloaded from the university website at: http://www.xavier.edu/financial-aid/documents/12014-2015GraduateGuidetoFinancialAssistance.pdf.  Additional information is available on their website:  http://www.xavier.edu/financial-aid/graduate.cfm.  Since each student’s options for financial assistance is different, prospective doctoral students are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance to discuss which funding options apply to their particular circumstances.  The office can assist students with filing the requisite forms to apply for various kinds of assistance.

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How do I contact the Director of the Leadership Studies Doctoral Program?

The director of the Leadership Studies doctoral program is eager to answer your questions about the program and discuss how it might help you fulfill your personal and professional aspirations. Dr. Gail F. Latta, Ph.D. can be reached at by phone or email at: lattag@xavier.edu (513) 745-2986 (voicemail messages left at this number will also be received as email). Prospective students are encouraged to contact Dr. Latta early in their deliberations to discuss their interest in Leadership Studies, and to maintain contact throughout the application process.

Program Contact:

Gail F. Latta, Ph.D., Program Director & Associate Professor
305 Hailstones Hall
College of Professional Sciences
Xavier University
(513) 745-2986 or lattag@xavier.edu

Office of Graduate Admission Contact:

3800 Victory Parkway
100 Hailstones Hall
Cincinnati, OH 45207-3211
Phone: 513 745-3360
Toll free: 800 344-4698 ext 3360
Fax: 513 745-1048
Email: xugrad@xavier.edu


Shulman, Lee S.; Golde, Chirs M.; Conklin Bueschel, Andrea; Garabedian, Kristen J. (2006). Reclaiming education's doctorates: A critique and a proposal. Educational Researcher, 35 (3): 26.

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